Neil Jarvis is perhaps better known as the singer of the Manchester indie rock band Sprinters, who released a fine album in 2019’s shimmering ‘Struck Gold’. His new solo album ‘Get The Band Back Together’ is the fruits of his labours since April 2020 until now. Very much a pandemic album then. Recorded to 4 track tape it could be said it’s Jarvis’s Nebraska.
Opening with the gentle instrumental ‘Spring, Again’ there’s an immediately sombre feel.
The album cover, apparently taken at the final gig Jarvis attended before lockdown marries neatly with the title track. It’s a lament to lockdown that pines for the past glories of live music, yet with the understanding that it won’t be quite the same. There’s a lo-fi Daniel Johnston meets Galaxie 500 atmosphere to it.
‘Green & Blue’ returns to familiar territory; the glistening Real Estate guitar hooks very much present. There is a huge sounding reverb on Jarvis’s voice on the beautiful ‘Old House’ that, with his simple ear for melody and uncomplicated lyrical approach, recalls Daniel Johnston’s Artistic Vice.
The gorgeous and plaintive ‘Yosemite’ changes the atmosphere completely. Projecting a wide open space with drawn out, fuzzy guitar notes with just a simple repetitive electronic drum beat for company, it’s absolutely beautiful.
Those sweet picked guitars make a return on the eulogy ‘Song For David Berman’ about the Silver Jews/Purple Mountains main man who so tragically passed in 2019.
The general lack of drums throughout the album gives extra creedence to the thick reverbs that lend a meditative quality.
There are obvious comparisons here with Kut Vile. There is perhaps no greater example of this than ‘Near Miss’. It’s awash with long echoes that meld into the previous chord to create a very light drone. Of course, Jarvis’s vocals are more gentle than Vile’s thick drawl!
The ‘1,2,3,4’ opening of the delicate and repetitive ‘Jingle’ belies that we are in for a short instrumental that sets up the, once again Daniel Johnston-esque, ‘Courage’. It sees Jarvis embrace the harmonica for the first time before the closer ‘Time’ offers up one last hypnotic, subtle arrangement. The 4 track tape gently warps as if it’s just on the verge of running out. A fitting ending to an album that joins the growing list of surprise lockdown solo albums.
Jarvis’s understated approach and dreamlike atmospherics make this a sleeper hit in more ways than one.
You may enjoy this if you like: Sprinters, Daniel Johnston, Real Estate, Kurt Vile, Galaxie 500